I don’t agree completely. Although the Westboro Baptist Church is on the radical fringe of the radical fringe of evangelicals—they’re a kind of “Primitive Baptist,” the sect best known these days for “church planting” in areas that already have lots of churches that the PBs feel are betraying or weakening Christianity—it preaches the same religious bigotry as other fundamentalist churches. It just does it more actively and outside their own backwoods backyard.
Yes, they’ll alienate more evangelicals than they’ll reinforce. But they WILL reinforce enough of them to make “God hates fags”-level evangelism part of the religious conversation. Religious bigots usually say politely that they love sinners, but that they hate what sinners do. The WBC is less polite, and maybe more honest.
Incidentally, another less-polite-and-more-honest religious group is demonstrating this weekend at the Brooklyn abortion clinic whose escorting I help support. The Helpers of God’s Precious Infants (HOGPI, pronounced “hog pee”) interfere with clients there every Saturday morning and on many weekends. Once a year, they stage a march on the clinic as well. That’s happening this Saturday morning. You can see photos of a previous march (small thanks to cold weather) and our counterdemonstration at http://www.brooklynprochoicenetwork.org/demo12-07.html. And if any NYC-area freethinkers wanna be in Brooklyn this Saturday at 8:15 a.m. to confront this year’s larger (and warmer) march, see http://www.brooklynprochoicenetwork.org for details. I’ll be there, as will the Church Ladies for Choice (http://www.myspace.com/churchladies4choice ) chorus.
Here’s the news wrap-up about the God Hates Fags church, excerpted:
Kansas bigotry falls flat at Brooklyn synagogues
By Ben Muessig
The Brooklyn Paper
A handful of hateful Midwesterner’s brought their anti-Semitic and anti-gay message to two Brownstone Brooklyn synagogues on Saturday - where they were met with anger, condemnation, and some old-fashioned chutzpah. . . .
[T]he Westboro demonstrators focused their efforts on the Park Slope and Cobble Hill synagogues, where they added anti-Semitic lyrics to the Israeli national anthem and Jewish songs like “Hava Nagila” while waving signs stating “Jews stole the land,” “Israel is doomed,” “You will eat your babies,” and “Bitch burger” (which, inexplicably, depicted a fetus served on a bun). . . .
The Christian extremists told The Brooklyn Paper that they targeted these specific temples “because they are the largest Jewish organizations in the area” and that they didn’t intend to convert anyone to their cause.
“We are not here to convince anyone - we are here to warn them. That’s our duty,” said Megan Phelps-Roper, 23, from behind a police barricade. . . .
The scores of counter-protesters mocked the fundamentalist group with homemade signs stating “Jesus had two dads” and “God hates cotton-polyester blends.” Others exchanged insults with the religious group and chanted: “Go home.” . . .